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Mauritius: an exclusive getaway in the heart of the Indian Ocean
Population: 1, 300,000
Languages: French, English, Creole
Capital: Port Louis
Surface area:1,865 km²
Currency: Mauritian rupee
In the heart of the Indian Ocean, 500 miles east of Madagascar, lies a perfect tropical getaway, Mauritius. Access to Mauritius is easy as the island is served by regular flights from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.
History and population
The strategic position of Mauritius on the former “Spice route”, earned it the title of “Star and Key of the Indian Ocean”.
The island has been successively colonised by the Arabs, the Dutch, the French and the British.
Today the island is an example to the world. Its population is a true melting pot, which blends Indian, Chinese, African and European lifestyles and traditions.
The legendary Mauritian hospitality and the excellence of the hotel industry have propelled Mauritius to being one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations.
English is the official language of the island; however, French and Creole are widely spoken. There are also numerous ethnic dialects.
Mauritius celebrates its Independence Day on the 12th of March each year. Independence was granted in 1968 and the island obtained the status of Republic in 1992, on the same date.
The island’s political infrastructure is based on the British model. Democratic elections conducted every five years appoint 70 members to the National Assembly. The Prime Minister is the Head of the Government and holds the executive power, while the President acts as the Head of State. Mauritius is a proud member of the Commonwealth and of the eminent French-speaking organisations.
Until the 1980’s, agriculture - particularly the cultivation of the sugar cane - was the mainstay of the Mauritian economy. The country has since diversified its economy and can rely today on three other main pillars: textiles, tourism and the financial sector.
The island enjoys a mild tropical climate with temperatures varying from 20 to 32 C°.
The island is linked to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, by frequent daily flights operated by many airlines including Air Mauritius, the island’s own international airline.
Simplified entry requirements
It is easy to obtain a tourist visa to Mauritius. It is however recommended to double-check entry requirements with the appropriate embassy, consulate or travel agency.
A safe island
There are strict rules about the importation and exportation of plants, fruits and animals. Strict sanitary regulations are applied and no vaccines are required to enter the country.
The island is free of endemic diseases and poisonous animals. The island also enjoys political stability and press freedom.
An ideal geographical location virtually in the centre of the Southern Indian Ocean (GMT +4) reduces the time difference between its main markets.
Pamplemousses Botanical Garden – Pamplemousses
Located 11km north east of Port Louis, the region of Pamplemousses has a rich past. The Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere and was brought to life in the 18th century by Mahé de Labourdonnais – governor of “Ile de France” from 1735 – 1746 - who initially used the site as a vegetable garden. Today it is home to many treasures of the botanical world, most notable of which is the Giant Amazon Water lily.
Aventure du Sucre – Pamplemousses
For many years from 1810 sugar was the main product and industrial activity on the island. The Sugar Adventure invites visitors to discover the history of sugar, the manufacturing process and its influence on Mauritian society. The interactive museum is built on the site of an old sugar factory and the boutique offers souvenirs and the opportunity to indulge in a “sugar tasting” of 15 varieties of sugar.
Just off the north coast of Mauritius, six islets are waiting to be discovered. These small islands are rich in history and natural beauty and are perfect for a relaxing day trip. For example, île Plate houses one of the few operating lighthouses in Mauritius, the Coin de Mire’s cliffs are home to the famous white-tailed tropic bird and in the clear waters of île d’Ambre sea turtles can be spotted...
Grand Port – Mahébourg
Vieux Grand Port is where people first settled on the island. The site is known for the famous naval battle of Grand Port, fought between the English and French in 1810 during the Napoleonic wars. Many remains and structures found around the town are a reminder of the rich colonial past of the district. Mahébourg offers a refreshing mix of old and new. Visitors can enjoy a visit to the Naval Museum followed by a stop at the colourful local market where visitors can buy a range of original souvenirs.
Wonders of Mauritius, Southern Treasures
La Route du Thé
Tea was first introduced onto the island in 1765. La Route du Thé takes visitors on a cultural journey and offers the opportunity to discover beautiful natural scenery and the tea making process as well as enjoy a delicious meal in a traditional colonial residence, Domaine des Aubineaux.
The Seven Coloured Earth - Chamarel
The Seven Coloured Earth is a must-see!
This unique geological formation has become somewhat of a phenomenon in Mauritius, having created an area of sand dunes made up of seven distinct colours. Its particularity is that the colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow) never mix and withstand all weather conditions!
Ile aux Cerfs
Ile aux Cerfs, Deer Island in English, owes its name to the fact that the island was once home to imported Java deer. Covering around 100 acres of land, the island offers beautiful beaches, lush nature and clear blue seas. Whether visitors want to simply relax, indulge in a round of golf on the 18-hole course or try out a few water sports, there is something for everyone.
Port Louis – Capital city
The island’s capital city is alive with Mauritian culture and colour! With many historical landmarks as well as modern shopping possibilities, a day in Port Louis offers visitors an expedition between the past and present. Many attractions are waiting to be discovered, to name but a few: the Champs de Mars race course - the oldest race track in the Southern hemisphere, the local market offers a selection of original souvenirs and typical products and a visit to La Citadelle, a 19th century military fort, reveals impressive views over the city...
Black River Gorges National Park
The National Park is the largest nature reserve of the island, covering 6,754 hectares of land. Its tropical forest is home to various species of endemic flora and fauna. The park includes picnic areas, trekking paths and offers visitors breathtaking views, ensuring all the while that the endemic wildlife is respected.
Le Morne - île aux Benitiers – Dolphins
Le Morne is a picturesque peninsula that benefits from a micro-climate. Le Morne Mountain’s summit reaches 556m and covers an area of over 12 hectares. What was once a refuge to runaway slaves, during the 18th and 19th century, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Surrounded by the Morne lagoon, the area is also well known for its beauty and access to an array of water sports.
Ile aux Benitiers is a charming islet located just off the west coast. Visitors can indulge in a refreshing swim as they enjoy the natural beauty of this coral formation and its surroundings. On the way, visitors are in with a chance to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat.
Located at the heart of the island, Eureka is a family owned colonial residence that dates back to the early 19th century. The house was originally built by Englishman Mr. Carr who wanted to live closer to the governor of the time. Since 1865 the house has belonged to different members of the Leclezio family. A trip to Eureka is an authentic holiday experience and a walk back in time to discover a beautiful bygone era.
The holy lake of Grand Bassin is said to communicate with the waters of the River Ganges in India and is guarded by an impressive statue of the God Shiv. It is a sacred place of worship for the Hindu community and welcomes the pilgrims of Maha Shivaratri every year, bringing colour and life to the site. A visit to Grand Bassin is a real cultural experience.
The most popular local markets can be found in Quatre Bornes, Mahébourg and Port Louis. Visitors will get a true taste of Mauritius and be able to test their bargaining power to bring back home original and typical souvenirs as well as clothing and accessories.